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Nearly 1,000 Ohioans have been hospitalized this flu season

Posted: 1:16 AM, Jan 09, 2020
Updated: 2020-01-09 01:39:51-05

CINCINNATI — The medical director of Hamilton County Public Health on Wednesday forecasted a longer-than-normal flu season for the Cincinnati region, noting that Ohio had recorded nearly double the number of flu-related hospitalizations it had on the same day in 2019.

“Last year, we continued to have flu cases from January well into March, almost to April,” said Dr. Steve Feagins, who also serves as Mercy Health East Market’s vice president of medical affairs. “So far this year, where we are compared to last year, we are about roughly twice the number of hospitalizations.”

That means 100 in Hamilton County, Feagins said, and 1,000 in the state as a whole. The numbers generated by Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana together were enough to signal the disease is “widespread,” though not an imminent threat to general public safety.

But, like in 2019, a large number of cases in January will likely mean a large number of cases through the rest of the spring, according to Feagins. He and other medical professionals will spend those months closely monitoring the spread of the illness in case it becomes more serious.

For now, Feagins advised anyone who had not already been vaccinated against the flu to do so immediately. Although the vaccine is not always successful at preventing infection, it dampens symptoms and lowers the risk of hospitalization for infected indivudals.

People who hope to protect their health should also keep their hands clean, avoid shaking hands with others and, if ill, stay home instead of potentially spreading the virus.